Today’s Women’s Empowerment Initiative update comes from Haitian partner Fabienne Jean and FONDAMA. We first learned about FONDAMA when Fabienne spoke to a local network here in Asheville, North Carolina (USA) as part of the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s stateside planning efforts — a rare and welcomed opportunity to meet a partner! Since then, Seed Programs International Program Manager Naima Dido and FONDAMA coordinator Fabienne have been identifying ways that FONDAMA and our partners in the SPI Haiti Partnership Network can work together.
FONDAMA and their member organizations work toward food sovereignty by addressing the root causes of poverty in Haiti, including the promotion of cooperative agriculture, access to land and clean water, and education. Fabienne Jean coordinates FONDAMA’s grassroots network of farmer organizations throughout Haiti and advocates for their communities. FONDAMA is not only led by a powerful woman — their programs prioritize access to resources for women who have children, and for the poorest farmers who have lost everything to natural disasters that are increasingly amplified by climate change. By prioritizing access for women, they are putting power back in the hands of mothers to improve their child’s and family’s nutrition.
FONDAMA’s vision is large and long-term, intended to build a strong foundation for future generations. This is not easy work. They must adapt to the on-the-ground challenges that emerge in the wake of each disaster. Damaged infrastructure, worsened by recurring storms, means that partners can’t rely on traditional supply channels. FONDAMA and other SPI partners must innovate to accomplish some of the most basic agricultural tasks, like finding protected spaces to sow seeds and grow seedlings.
Fabienne says, “Right now, we have a lot of problems with the effects of climate change. We can have a lot of rain or a long drought season. Also, the reconstruction of roads and other infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Matthew [in 2016] has been slow and is ongoing.
“Since the hurricane, FONDAMA has put tremendous effort into training communities to change their old farming practices so they can be more resilient at the time of floods and other natural disasters. The seeds from SPI were very helpful. A partnership like SPI is very important to us because the lack of access to good seed is the biggest reason people do not grow vegetables here. When the seed is not good, people work so hard in the gardens and farms and get nothing but failure for their hard work. This kills the morale.
“The seeds grew in some areas where people were already familiar with growing vegetables, but not in all places that we gave them because of poor soil health, lack of water access, and other challenges. In response to the garden failures, we started a yard garden program that is designed to withstand flooding and wind.
“We trained the communities to turn tires inside out, put soil and compost in it, and grow their vegetable garden in the tires, which contain the soil securely against erosion. Tires are one solution, but we are also working on raised bed systems to plant seedlings that will not be washed away by flooding. We will use future seeds received from SPI to grow the seedlings.”
Working collectively, FONDAMA’s programs adapt to address people’s needs from the ground up. Not only do they identify what is needed for success, but they also assess what hasn’t worked and create solutions that are appropriate to a community’s specific context. FONDAMA is a Haitian Creole acronym fashioned from Fondasyon Men Lan Men Ayiti, which is translated to Hand-in-Hand Haiti Foundation. This is appropriate since they are on the ground, hand-in-hand with the farmers and families in their communities.
Thanks to your support of Sweet Blossom Gifts and the Women’s Empowerment Initiative, Fabienne has SPI seed for FONDAMA’s communities. We’re grateful for your support, and for the support of Sweet Blossom Gifts!
Sweet Blossom Gifts & The SPI Team